Sicily

A first taste of Sicily

Seductively beautiful and perfectly placed in the heart of the Mediterranean, Sicily’s varied landscape offers dramatic beaches and mountain scenery.

After I lost my job, in March 2017, I decided to take a small break and visit my friend Donatella in Sicily. Sicily was the best therapy for the shock of loosing my job; this land full of sunshine and breathtaking landscapes gave me a lot of strength to go back to Geneva full of hope and positivity ( I then found two new jobs :)).

I started by visiting Catania since there are really convenient Easyjet flights from Geneva. I flew with my friend

Francesca who, by chance, booked my same  flight to get a break like I was doing. After a 6AM flight, we started our day with an almond and coffee granita with a Sicilian brioche and a huge arancino at pasticceria Savia. Francesca was pushing me to induge in food and I had such a big breakfast, then I only had a light dinner 10 hours after. The traditional Sicilian breakfast starts with a frosty coffee granita and a fresh, buttery brioche. (Remember that Sicily in the summer takes “hot” to a whole new level, and once there you easily understand the need for such an icy start). Sicilian brioche is a little sturdier than its delicate French counterpart, probably because the practice is to dunk the brioche in the granita and the last thing you want is to go bread-fishing in your glass.After such a glorius start Francesca and I had a walk in Bellini Garden, the oldest urban park in the city ,an important botanical resource since it gives abode to many ancient and exotic types of plants. Catania is a maze of streets submerged by the graffiti and all kinds of goods for sale. It is the confusion of the Fish Market and the smoke rising from the copious barbecue Via Plebiscito. It is the decadent charm of the red light district (San Beryl), the irresistible mix of ethnic groups, smells and tastes that run the city day and night.

From Catania, I went to Messina to visit my friend Donatella who was my Cicerone during my days in the Island and visited Taormina and Siracusa with me.

Taormina

Taormina is a picturesque small town perched on a slope high above the Ionian Sea on the eastern coast of Sicily. The views, the scenery, the atmosphere make Taormina unique and beautiful, perfect for a Sicilian taste of dolce vita.

The ancient theatre is without question the most important feature  in Taormina, also  for its fortunate natural setting, with splendid view toward the Calabrian coast, the Ionian coast of Sicily and the spectacular cone of Etna. To allow the construction was necessary to remove manually from the mountain over 100,000 cubic meters of rock. The plant was later renovated and expanded by the Romans, who inserted columns, statues and ingenious covers.

Constructed during the Greek Hellenistic period, the theatre’s design and horseshoe layout are typical of Greek construction. The theatre was literally carved out of the rock on Mount Tauro and had a capacity of 5,000 spectators. However, the extensive use of brick in the theatre suggests a Roman influence and researchers feel that the Romans most likely rebuilt the theatre over the original Greek foundation.

Taormina’s chief delight is wandering this pedestrian-friendly, boutique-lined thoroughfare. Donatella and me started  at the tourist which dates back to the 10th century before heading southwest for spectacular panoramic views from Piazza IX Aprile.

 

 

Siracusa

It’s difficult to imagine now, but in its heyday Syracuse was one of the largest city of Magna Grecia.  Its ‘Once upon a Time‘ begins around 735 BC, when Corinthian colonists landed on the island of Ortygia and founded the settlement. Almost three millennia later, the ruins of that then-new city constitute the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis, one of Sicily’s greatest archaeological sites. Across the water from the mainland, Ortygia remains the city’s most beautiful corner, a casually chic, eclectic marvel with a lot of tourists wandering around.

Syracuse’s showpiece square is a masterpiece of baroque. A long, rectangular piazza flanked by flamboyant palazzi, it sits on what was once Syracuse’s ancient acropolis (fortified citadel). Over the square, in the northwestern corner, is the Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco, which sports a pretty 18th-century facade, while at its southern end is the Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia, home to Caravaggio’s masterpiece, Il seppellimento di Santa Lucia (Burial of St Lucy). The current 17th-century of St Lucy Church stands on the site where the city’s patron saint, Lucia, an aristocratic girl who devoted herself to saintliness after being blessed by St Agatha, was martyred in 304. In fact, the marble column to the right of the main altar is believed to be the very spot where the saint’s life was taken.

 

Eolie Islands

 

Standing out of the blue sea ofSicily’s northeastern coast, the Unesco-protected Aeolian Islands  (Vulcano, Lipari, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Filicudi and Alicudi) are a little piece of paradise, a magical outdoor that attracted me and Eva for our week off in August 2017. We could not choose a better place for my week of “telework”. Woodlands, wildflowers, thick yellow gorse bushes and serried ranks of grape vines carpet its hillsides, while high coastal cliffs plunge into the breaking waters below made us live a dream. Eva found a wonderful Bed&Breakfast run by Gianfranco, one of the nicest hosts I have ever met. Gianfranco owns Il Gelso B&B,located 300 m from Malfa town. There are not enough adjectives to describe our stay there.

I got so in love of Aeolian Islands, that I decided to go back a year later with Fernando, just because he could not miss such a pearl of my country. Below you will see two photogalleries, one for each trip. Enjoy!

 

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